Category Archives: Mission

RFKC Friday Update: The Goodbyes

It was time to say goodbye. We were outside in the blazing hot sun in the early afternoon. Any of the four other previous days, around the same time in the afternoon, the kids could easily be heard splashing and laughing in the pool, seen putting together Lego masterpieces, cheered on as they bounced basketballs, or watched doing a variety of other fun activities. But not so on this day. Today it is Friday and instead of all the fun activities in afternoon, we are waiting to load the kids on the bus.

While the luggage is put on the buses and everything else gets prepared before the kids’ leave, to pass the time, the kids and volunteers sign each other’s t-shirts. Also, the counselors get an opportunity to give their campers the specially made memory book filled with pictures and notes from the week.

Last year, I remember in particular, one graduating girl who was walking around with a poster board piece that she was asking everyone to sign. She asked me to sign and I gladly did. She was in tears and could hardly speak a word. It was so hard to look at her like that. This was her last year at camp. In fact, these were her last couple of moments at this very special place.

It is challenging to say goodbye after pouring out on these kids every last ounce of love we have (and all week long, God seemingly continues to fill us up with more of His love to pour out). Even in their cussing, kicking, running off, and hating, when God gives us His heart for them, somehow we love them in the messes. Not only does His love in us for the kids make it difficult to watch them leave, but also the fact that it is truly “goodbye.” We cannot promise to see them at camp next year, we cannot excitedly exclaim, “See you in heaven!”, and we cannot be certain we will ever see them again.

In these moments, the one thing we can take comfort in, is the knowledge that the Lord holds these precious children in His hands. He is their Savior, He is their Good Shepherd, and He is their hope. He will protect them and continue to direct their steps. So though we cannot make promises to the children about the future, the greatest thing is that we know the One who holds both the kids and their futures – and He is surely trustworthy.

Though this particular girl may never come back to camp again – though we do not know if any of these kids will ever come back to camp whether or not they are graduating this year – we submit them to the Lord. All we can do is ask Him to continue to lead them nearer to Himself!

Specific Prayer Requests:

  • As we say goodbye, please pray that God will comfort our hearts. Pray that though we may grieve and be broken, we do not grieve as those without hope because we know God holds the kids and their futures in His very hands.
  • For those of us riding on the bus ride back home with the kids, please pray that God will give us the words to say and will lead us in our interactions with the kids. Pray for God to give us strength and grace as we spend the last few moments with the kids.
  • As the kids re-adjust to “home life”, whatever that may be, pray they will be received back by their caregivers well.
  • Pray God will continue to speak to the campers even after they leave camp. Pray that He will soften their hearts and that they will turn to Him and seek a personal relationship with Him. Pray for their brokenness and past hurts to be healed in Jesus’ love.

RFKC Wednesday Update: Give Our All

It’s pretty humbling that some of the kids at camp have never celebrated their birthday before. So the fun event on Wednesday night at camp is a huge Birthday Party for everyone!

After the fun games are finished, the cupcakes are eaten, and it’s time to head back to the cabins, it could be the hardest night to put the campers to bed. They have just had a whole bunch of sugar, received a bunch of great gifts, and just do not want to sleep. And yet, what is also hovering over some of their minds is the fact that the next day, Thursday, is their last FULL day at camp.

Both the volunteers and kids experience a lot of emotions at camp. I think it is pretty accurate to say that Wednesday night/Thursday morning provides a turning point for everyone.

The kids start to realize they only have one full day left at camp. Many of these kids, because of what they have been through, are very resilient. Therefore, some of them may begin holding back and shut us out to protect themselves because they know we will say goodbye on Friday.

At this point, as counselors and staff, we are all faced with an important decision: we can either hold back ourselves because it is hurts to bid them farewell or we can choose to continue pouring out all for them despite the fact that it may be very painful to load them on the bus on Friday.

The first year I attended camp, I distinctly remember being challenged during our staff “chapel time” on Thursday to not check out emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. We were encouraged to continue to be present to the kids at camp. If we refrain from giving our all, we will regret it later. Instead, we must continue to pour out every ounce of strength and energy, trusting that God will supply us with even more of His – and He so faithfully does.

The good news is that we, as camp volunteers, are not the kids’ savior. That may seem quite obvious, but I remember crying out to the Lord, “Why can’t we take them all home with us?!” But that’s not why we go to camp. Christ is their Savior. He is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep each by name. He has called these kids to camp and us His people to serve at camp. So, we can put on a smile (even through the tears and the brokenness of our hearts) as they leave so that they can know their Savior, Jesus, is the One who holds them in the very palm of His hands and He has a perfect plan for their future.

Specific Prayer Requests:

  • For the Birthday Party, please pray that through all the fun events and celebrating, the kids will know God has specially made them and He loves them so much.
  • Pray for those who help put the kids to bed on Wednesday night! Pray for God’s peace to be upon everyone.
  • Pray that even if the children start to hold back, they will continue to receive the truth, be receptive of God’s love, and experience what He has brought them to camp for. Pray the kids will focus on enjoying the present moment and not spend the time focusing on leaving camp.
  • Pray that each volunteer will continue to showcase the love of Jesus in our every action. Although it will hurt us to say goodbye, pray we will give our all and not hold back in an effort to avoid the pain. Pray for strength to not check out but rather to pour out all on them.
  • For the girl’s Tea Party tomorrow afternoon, please pray God reveals to them His tender love and care. Pray He will show them what a godly man is like through the men God has called to camp this week.

The Sabbath Summer

01 - Sabbath SummerThis year’s homeschool agenda wasn’t even complete when I began sketching out a rough draft for how we would use these “free” summer months to finish up Math books, practice shaky skills like phonics and algebra, and possibly use some of those little learning workbooks that are collecting dust on a distant bookshelf.

Now before you begin feeling too bad for my children, noses to their mother’s grindstone, know that I am absolutely looking forward to days spent at the beach and hours doing whatever our little hearts’ desire. Yes, I am taking a summer vacation… and I am being a good steward of my children’s education… or am I?

Could it be that I lean more on the side of “not enough” than I do the side of stewardship? Could it be that I’m so used to being me, the master planner and teacher, that I have a hard time resting?
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you also are so good at what you’re doing that it takes a great effort to do something different.

I have a challenge for us this summer.

One. Ask God what He wants us to do with our summer. Ask Him to prove our motives. Like I said before, planning can come from a heart of stewardship and it can come from a state of fear. Search us, O God, and know our hearts; try us, and know our anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

If He says to continue doing what you’re doing, praise God! If He says to do something different, praise God! God, if You intend to derail our plans, we thank You, and we ask for Your strength and guidance as we try something different. Father, we have made our plans, but You direct our steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray that our families would experience God’s unfailing power and might in these months of freedom! May our homes be filled with the sound of healing, hospitality, vulnerability, strength, hope, and love. Let the Enemy hear our deep and heartfelt sighs of relief as we empty our burdens and fears and anxieties at the Cross this summer.

Whatever your situation, concern, or joy, may you breathe deeply this Sabbath Summer.

If you feel burdened this summer due to a pressing prayer request, please share it with us, so we can intercede on your behalf.

What You’re Into: Royal Family Kids Camp with Keaton Steed

Kings Harbor is in countdown mode.  Royal Family Kids Camp is just a mere three months away and WE NEED YOU.  If you have never been to camp and are looking for a Mission Opportunity this is it.  I (Joy Steed) talked to Keaton Steed about her experience at Royal Family and this is what she had to share:

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How did you find out about Royal Family and what made you want to go? My mom, you. I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t like camp as a kid and so I really didn’t want to go at all, but you told me I didn’t have a choice, this was something I needed to do!

How did your perception of what this camp, Royal Family, change once you were there? I realized how helpless these kids are, how many of them don’t receive a lot of love and special things in their lives.  This can make them hard to love, because they don’t always show their affection at first.  They have a guard up at first, because they don’t trust people easily.  So, seeing how throughout the week they changed and became more trusting, and opened up and because of that you learn more about their story, about what they have been through or are going through.  This changed how I felt about the camp.  They are kids but they have been through a lot more than what a kid should go through.

If someone had never been to camp what would you tell them?  That you just need to go and have fun with these kids let them have fun, treat them like any other kid and love them unconditionally.

How would you say God worked through Royal Family In my first year I wasn’t really aware of the impact of camp until I got home, I spent a lot of time with one camper in particular and so when I came home from that week I wondered a lot about her, her situation and if I would ever see her again.  I had to rely on God and give my anxiety and sadness over to God and trust that wherever she was and whatever her circumstances that God was taking control of them and watching out for her and at the same time helping me through missing her.  The second year, which was last year I saw God work through the counselors and staff and I then saw the impact that this had on the kids, how God was working in their lives that week.  We were humbled.  At Royal Family we have to put others first and that’s not easy.  You also realize that things we take for granted others don’t have and perceptions we have of others and their situations aren’t necessarily accurate.   God took all of that and changed the hearts of the counselors and staff and in changing our hearts the kids hearts get affected, being cared for and excepted and loved unconditionally and in a safe way, a way they may have never experienced and because of this their hearts are changed.

Keaton, personally what have you seen God do in your life because of your experience of serving at Royal Family Kids Camp?  It’s given me a heart to help kids that are struggling especially those kids in the Foster system.  It has opened my eyes to that.  God changed my heart and faith through this experience just simply by opening my eyes to situations outside of my comfort zone.  I definitely see that by stepping out of my comfort zone, by going I definitely became aware of there being a need right here in my community.  Royal Family personally reminded me what I already know about God, that God can change people and in a matter of days lives can be affected in a positive way just by being available and willing to give your time and energy to someone other than yourself.

If you are interested in volunteering for Royal Family Kids Camp this year talk to Christine Barker or Jason Flentye about how to get involved.  The applications to serve are on the Kings Harbor website.

Here’s your turn to be heard! Comment below to enter a chance to win a copy of God’s Smuggler in honor of our month dedicated to “God’s Word”. The winner will be announced on March 31st at 8:00pm.

God's Smuggler

The Whole Word of God

Baby Holding Dad’s Finger on BibleI recently asked one of my children whether or not they had brushed their teeth. The near inconsequential fact that they had yet to do so would have remained only a slight irritation had he/she not made the foolish choice to lie to my face several times and dance around the truth until they were found out and disciplined heavily for the deception.

Later in the day, once the infraction had been dealt with and apologized for, I was looking through some possible memory verses for the week. (The children and I memorize a new verse every week or two… or three). The Child suggested we find a verse about the evilness of lying.

And a childhood memory flashed before my eyes…

I had a wonderful childhood. It was made rich with a strong faith-community of men and women who spoke God’s love to my growing heart and two parents who did their absolute best in sharing the Word of God with me.

DISCLAIMER: What I am about to write is written in the understanding that should my children ever become communicators of truth, they will inherently receive much “material” from their own parents as we are attempting to introduce them to a perfect God within the confines of our sinful nature. So it was with my parents and so it is with you.

When I was young I spoke my mind, often without invitation and often without thought. And dare I mention it was often in the form of a complaint or what one might label as “arguing”. In my youth I preferred to call it “sharing my opinion”. (Today I prefer not to think of these times at all, and instead complain about my own children’s’ uninvited opinions which I label “arguing”.)

My poor mother, often in frustration at never having a child humble enough to admit to wrong-doing, would start quoting the Book of Proverbs. I always heard about Proverbs within the context of foolishness being “bound up in the heart of a child” or how fools spoke too much. I never did learn to shut my mouth as a child, but rather that the Book of Proverbs was clearly written by a man who did not like children. It became to me a book of constant nagging, one that showed only my faults as a fool.

It was in the same heart of frustration that I was introduced to the Book of Job. I do not remember what I complained about, but I hit the limit and my father began reading Job to me. It was the first time I had heard the story and the lesson I received was Job had something to complain about; I did not.

Now back to current time.

In remembering those few negative experiences I had with the Word of God being thrown in my face by an exasperated parent (something I can strongly relate to), I did not agree that The Child needed to memorize a verse about lying. They knew that lying was not the correct choice hence the dancing they did to not get caught.

Instead we memorized a verse about the character of God.

We are called to memorize verses that correct and tell us “what not to do”.

The question is not whether to admonish our children with the Word of God. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” It says quite clearly that we are to admonish with the Word of God.

My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Proverbs 7:1

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

The question is are we also teaching our children the whole picture of God. While we admonish we can encourage the little sinners that God still loves them with a never-ending love that is not based on what they do. Are they learning the what-not verses along with the verses that speak to God’s character and role models how to praise a praise-worthy God? Are we?

And that’s from one saved sinner to another.

Here I Am

Here I Am

“Here I am, Lord, send me.”  This is one of my favorite passages in Scripture.  Isaiah is in the presence of God and is taken back by his sinfulness in the light of God’s holiness.  So, the seraphim touches Isaiah’s lips with coals from the altar and says Isaiah’s guilt is atoned for.  Then, Isaiah literally overhears God talking to Himself, the Trinity, saying, “Whom shall We send?”  And Isaiah immediately responds, “Here I am, send me.”  How beautiful.

God doesn’t even ask Isaiah, yet he says, “Yes Lord, I would gladly go for You.”  God didn’t say, “Isaiah, will you go?” instead He said, “ who can go?”  Isaiah could so easily respond to the Lord before he even personally received the call because his heart was in tune with God’s heart.  For some reason, I didn’t think my heart could be so in tune God’s, but He has been at work in me!

Last year was my first year to be a part of Royal Family Kids Club – a yearlong club/mentorship program for kids from the foster care system who have been to Royal Family Kids Camp before.  My plan was to be a “club staff” – simply assisting at club once a month – I didn’t plan on “mentoring” a child.  However, God had other desires.

Only a few days before the start of Club, I learned of the need for more mentors.  My initial thought was, “Lord, raise up Your people.”  But a brief moment later, I instead said, “Lord, why can’t it be me?”  And immediately I knew this was what I was supposed to do.  So I did – I accepted the call.

And though I definitely did not feel very “qualified” to be a mentor, I had the best qualifications possible for the position – the calling from the Lord Almighty who was working with me, in me, and through me.  I had the opportunity to be Jesus to my mentee.

Several months later, in February, God worked it out in His perfect way for me to attend the women’s retreat.  Though there were many things God taught me there, He was at work in my heart on so many different levels and in multiple ways.

At the closing session (I believe it was), they invited those of us who would like to be discipled by someone to stand up.  I knew I did so desperately want this.  And I stood.  Then, they invited those of us – regardless of our age – who wanted to be the disciplers to stand up.  For some reason, I felt the urge from God to do so.  And I stood.  Yet, after I stood up, I suddenly thought to myself, “Paula, what are you doing up here?  You have no right to be standing – sit down!”  But the Lord was speaking to my heart: “Who will go for Me to speak my words of truth and life to the women of the next generation?  Who will point them to Jesus?”  I truly desire to lead as I have been so led in Christ, “Yes, Lord.  Here am I, send me.”
Christ says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you….”  The Lord is asking a question among the Trinity and if our hearts are in tune with His, we will hear what He speaks: “Whom shall we send to point the next generation to Christ?  Who will go make disciples for Us?”

 

Here I am, send me!

 

Life is Messy

Life Is MessyEarlier this year, I was invited to share about how discipleship looks in my home. After sharing our approach, my “style” of discipleship was given the title Welcome to My Messy Life. This is an endearing term to me – because at the core I am a (recovering) perfectionist who worries that if anyone saw the mess and muck of the REAL me, they’d go running for the hills. But the beauty of Christ in me, my hope of glory, is that He makes beautiful things out of the messes that are deep inside. And I am learning to walk in the freedom to be me and the friendships I enjoy, because of this learning process, are the deepest and safest I have ever known. My husband has set a tone in our home of authenticity. What you see is what you get with Dave Ludwig. It has always been this way. I, on the other hand, like everything to be buttoned-up and in place. But, over the years, he has taught me to value the sincerity of allowing people in, even when things are far from “perfect.”

Discipleship in our home has become just that – inviting people in, typically younger than us, and allowing them to be part of our life, our family, our dinner table. The food is not always perfectly tasty or hot, the kids can say awkward things, the rest of the house can be in total disarray. And what I’ve learned is that it actually puts people at ease. I’ve learned that when I am with someone whom I view as “perfect” or “having it all together,” I don’t leave feeling better about myself. I leave wondering what I’m doing wrong. I leave with a party favor of self-doubt. However, when I spend time with someone who is authentic and open, it sets me free to be me, in whatever shape I’m in.

Let’s face it – we all have our junk. We all have our quirks. And that is how we were made. It can be messy sometimes to rub up against someone. But the relationships in which I’ve shared my own moments of vulnerability have been far more rewarding than me somehow convincing everyone that it is possible to have a perfect home, perfect marriage, perfect children, perfect meal each night. I can only hope that as we open our home we are allowing people to see that there is no RIGHT way. We are consistently working things out in our marriage and parenting (though we’ve been working at both for a while). Since the people we have over are usually a stage or 2 in life behind us, my hope is that someday when they’re married with a pack of kids of their own – that they might remember the frazzled look on my face, or the enthusiasm when DADDY GETS HOME, or the stack of dishes in the sink, and be put at ease because these things are normal.

The other beautiful side of this is that we are inviting our children into the ministry that takes place in our home. We are teaching them to love people, serve people, listen to others, value their stories and their perspective. We are letting people close to our children that are also pursuing a depth and love for Christ. We are allowing other opinions to be shared. Typically, after dinner, we adults spend time together in the living room, while the kids go to bed or spend quiet time elsewhere. This backs up my belief that kids need to understand that while they are an infinitely important part of this family, they are not the center of this family. Only Christ is. Sometimes we all have to move over to allow others to be loved on and poured into. And our kids have learned that while we may, at times, need “adult time and conversation”, they are still loved and valued.

Discipleship can be an untidy business. And for those of us who believe that we somehow have to have our act together in order to be equipped or ready to pour into others – you are misled and missing out on the joy of relationships. Suzie has told us for years that one of the top requirements is a willing heart. We need to love Jesus and let Him teach us how to love and pour into others. We all have something to share. We all have something to give. And your life doesn’t need to be tied up with a pretty red bow to have value to someone else. Take it from me… and my messy life.